Shedding the private tag that the Carter Knowles family is known for, the last albums from Beyoncé and Jay Z have been very open about their most intimate dirties. After the elevator episode where Solange dished out slaps and kicks to the legendary rapper, Beyoncé released Lemonade. The album sparked rumours of infidelity within the Carter family, rumours that were never denied or accepted.
His new album 4:44 is his thirteenth solo album racking up his impressive resume to fourteen albums. This carefully curated project is an introduction to the private life of the rapper turned mogul. The American rapper and businessman is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having sold more than 100 million records, while receiving 21 Grammy Awards for his music.
Taking a different approach from his regular album style, Jay Z tells individual stories in an album that links up in the very end, much like chapters inside an engaging book. 4:44 is what Kanye West’s 2013 Yeezus wanted to be. While Yeezus turned problematic and subsequently tanked in quality when put beside other Kanye West albums, this doesn’t fail in any way. Mr. Carter’s delivery is his gift and he eloquently displays why old sometimes is gold. Jay Z is a master of the flow, he can flow fast, he can flow slow. Rarely breaking a sweat, he uses smoothness and clever wordplay to keep the audience interested and entertained.
The album features collaborations with Frank Ocean, Damian Marley, Beyoncé and Jay Z’s mother, Gloria Carter. With songs like Kill Jay Z, The Story of O.J, Smile featuring his mother, Caught Their Eyes featuring the ever disappearing Frank Ocean, 4:44, the aptly titled Family Feud featuring Beyoncé, Bam featuring Damian Marley, Moonlight, Marcy Me and Legacy.
While 4:44 touches on everything with its powerful storytelling, it can be viewed from a different angles – a move to keep TIDAL relevant, a carefully calculated move to keep him in relevance, a cash cow; to move core Beyoncé fans over to his side or maybe just an open apology to his wife while telling his life story. This project seems to be covering everything here as TIDAL is back in the news, Beyoncé fans are talking about his album but there’s an important subtle detail we are missing out, the timing of this release just takes away from baby news from the Carter-Knowles family.
This album challenges the cheating allegations from Beyoncé’s Lemonade album and offers a very public apology to his wife. For the first time, he touches on issues that face the black community as regards racism – a thin line most musicians rarely thread and when they do, they sometimes don’t get forgiven for [See Macklemore with his album that had White Privilege 2]. He dedicates a section to dealing with Kanye West and his public outburst and while you can see that he still loves his former protege, he thinks it might be time for the genius to grow up.
Jay Z’s mother came out as gay. Smile is basically about the woman and her struggles as well as some deeper messages.
The album is a carefully curated project that does everything right and makes believers out of unbelievers. Mr. Carter was recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama releasing a video to congratulate him and this album is proof that the veteran is not even done yet.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin